That’s the headline from this article in the 23 March edition of The Economist.

After a discourse on the various ways NZ policies and practices belie its carefully cultivated “clean, green” image, the article concludes:

“In many ways, the dilemma New Zealand faces is no different to that of other rich countries—how to balance economic growth with the need to address environmental degradation. But it is particularly acute in a country so dependent on the export of commodities and landscape-driven tourism. The difference between New Zealand and other places is that New Zealand has actively sold itself as “100% Pure”. Now that New Zealanders themselves are acknowledging the gap between the claim and reality, and the risk to their reputation this poses, it is time for the country to find itself a more sustainable brand, and soon.”

It’s absolutely astounding how much self-inflicted damage the National-led Government has done in scarcely 20 months to NZ’s green reputation … especially with a prime minister as its Tourism Minister.

Minister Brownlee alone is a one-man wrecking ball smashing apart New Zealand’s brand equity. But no one in Government seems to realize how small — and instantaneous — the world now is in communications terms. Nor how unforgiving consumers world-wide are to anything they perceive as deceptive. Even Fonterra, wagging its finger lately at polluting dairy farmers, seems to “get it” more than National’s leaders.

Today I was planning to run a notice from Regional Councillor Liz Remmerswaal regarding next Saturday’s celebration of ‘Earth Hour’ at the HB Opera House. I must say, I find it disappointing that so many of us will do something so merely symbolic — and feel so self-satisfied that we’ve “sent a message” — while we let our political leaders get away with all sorts of environmental neglect and mischief … and through that, brand assassination, which will damage our economy as well.

That off my chest, I’ve pasted Liz’s notice below, because she’s a friend, and she does more than most to fight for the environment.

If you do go to ‘Earth Hour’ ask any elected official you discover there if their participation is merely symbolic.

Tom Belford

“What does the Hawke’s Bay Opera House in Hastings have in common with the pyramids in Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome, Sydney’s Opera House and the Beehive this Saturday?

All of these places and others will be plunged into darkness to celebrate ‘Earth Hour’ at 8.30pm on 27 March.

Earth Hour asks everyone to turn out their lights for one hour as a symbolic gesture to show their support for action that tackles climate change.

For that one hour there will be a chance to reflect on the impact we are having on the environment and pledge to make a change towards a more sustainable form of living.

Earth Hour is about making simple changes that will collectively make a difference – from businesses turning off their lights when offices are empty, to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.

In 2009, Earth Hour became the world’s largest environmental campaign, with nearly one billion people in 88 countries – including 1.5million New Zealanders – turning off their lights for one hour.

Come and join us this Saturday at the Opera House from 7pm on.

There will be some great free entertainment including acoustic music, African and Brazilian drumming and spine-tingling performances from Kahurangi Kapa Haka, Wesley Church Samoan Choir, fire dancing, a ghost story and a bagpiper.

Sponsored by Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Unison, More FM and Hawke’s Bay Opera House, this event promises to be one the whole family can enjoy, with a FREE sausage sizzle and burgers on offer. The Opera House will also have their bar open from 7pm.”

Liz Remmerswaal
Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor

Join the Conversation


  1. I guess that I am a cynic!

    The first thing that springs to my mind is who was the author of the editorial comment ( One of the Kiwi diaspora?)

    Secondly: Why would the Economist devote valuable column space to a semi broke nation half a world away!

    Me thinks that the pot is being stirred back in NZ and the Economist, shooting for a new angle and trying to justify its "Internationalist" reputation has seized on the opportunity .

    With regard to Earth Hour, I hope all those attending at the Opera House walk there!

  2. Valid brave comment Tom

    The imposter sits up in bed goes on about our wonderfull pristine environment then goes back to sleep

    Dictionary definition of Pristine- Ancient- Original- Unchanged

    I chastised Craig Foss for using the word in the wrong context

    at a Havlock meeting .To his credit he agreed it was a misused terminoligy.

    It hinders the work of genuine environmentalists by indoctrination alls well when it is unwell by way of burocratic inertia encouraged by an antiquated system of layperson governance.

    It produces mediocrity and poor decision making like the HDC waste water treatment debacle. If ever anything was crying out for strong leadership that is. Where is it?

    I invite readers to tap into this reference by the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and technology Postnote

    2007 number 282 " Energy and Sewage"

    It is 4 pages of easy to read data that will leave no doubt on a couple of hot issues here monumental mistakes have been made with the HDC treatment plant and the HBRC consent eight years ago to allow CHBC to continue with its substandard effluent discharges to the Tuki for another 12 years.

    It did this whilst continuing to grant water takes drastically increasing the summer low flow periods changing the seasonal ecology of the river. this changes the conditions at the time of consent a sound argument for shorter consents of 10 years.

    The original consent was granted when adam was a boy since when land use has changed drastically with a poulation growth

    the old syle system was not designed for.

    There is also the serious technical problem of storm and groundwater intrusion into the wastewater sytem also a major problem in Napier and probably Hastings

    I forcast years agoTuki trout 8 would start to die of long term exposure to sewage and horticulure chemical polutants. I detailed this in two letters in the CHB Mail on the 7th and 16th of March in response to articles on trout kills in HB Today on 26th Feb and March 5th

    In the latter HBRC ruled out the connection when aware of the link and had acknowleged it to me privately. That may account for the enthusiasm to purcase land to divert substandard discharges they had granted consent to continue with for a further 12 years

    in what can only be interpreted as a predetermined decision.

    CHBC had failed to budget for the upgrade when the consent lapsed. Why should HBRC ratepayers as a whole be subsidizing CHBC ratepayers. Likewise at Mahia?

    They are problematic precedent setting. A loan to upgrade may have been more prudent

    The first Trout kills were in 2007 and 08 as I had predicted from personal experience as a trout fisherman in the UK and as a young contractor working on upgrading wastewater systems in the 1960's that were identified as the cause of the fungal diease from long term polutant exposure,

    This affects the liver and reproduction organs and the disrupts the imune system causing secondary infection gill and head fungal growths and death.

    That is why it appears on mature fish. It can be compared to long term smokers internal organ damage

    The unseasonal low temperatures cloud cover and rainfalls in January and February undoubtably reduced what could have been a much larger mature fish kill not caused it as uninformed

    comments in the HB articles suggested

    It is all there on page 4 of the report under Endoctrine-Disrupting Chemicals (ECD's)

    HDC debacle

    On page 3 "Case Study Asford Kent" my mums home town it states this-

    In considering what form of treatment plant would be built for upgrades for a town of 60.000 comparable to HDC & NCC.

    It rules out a low energy Bio system because the reliability of natural systems have not been proven to be effective at this scale.

    It is assumed that refer's to unmodified systems unlike HDC which appears to be the only one in the World if there is no

    comparable loading operational data.

    If so it begs the question how did it get a consent?



    Derek Williams- Brickwork & Drainage UK

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